Tomato sauce for pizza

Delicious deep flavoured tomato base for your pizza, thick with some texture – not runny – also works as a base for pasta sauces, or for adding to anything that says add passata

This takes ages to cook, but five minutes to prepare – so make it on a day when you’re home with other things to get on with! It also freezes really well.

Ingredients (makes enough for two 12 inch pizzas with a fairly thick layer of tomato)

Olive oil

1 large onion

4 or 5 large cloves of garlic

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons of sugar

Salt and pepper

teaspoons of chilli flakes (optional)

teaspoon dried oregano (optional – or you could substitute other dried herbs of your choice)

Method

Put oil into a non-stick pan that will hold all the ingredients and still leave enough room at the top so that the sauce won’t splatter all over the cooker as it bubbles

chop the onion finely and add to the oil, allow to cook gently for around fifteen to twenty minutes until translucent and completely softened

chop garlic finely and add to onions, cook for a further five minutes

add tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper, chilli or herbs if using.

Bring to the boil, then turn down heat and leave to simmer gently on your lowest   up to four hours, or until you can draw a spoon through it and see the base of the pan for a couple of seconds. I set the timer for thirty minutes at a time and then stir it and check that it’s not ‘catching’ on the bottom (in which case if you have a simmer mat put it under the pan) or if after a while it’s still looking very wet bring it back up to the boil for a few minutes before turning it down again. You’re trying to evaporate as much liquid as possible until the sauce is thick enough to spread thickly onto your pizza without running off the sides.

Pizza bases

I often buy pizza bases rather than getting out the flour and yeast and doing it properly. I don’t really like those long-life factory made ones – but you can get some nice ‘less perfect’ ones from the bakery bit in lots of supermarkets, otherwise use flatbread or even naan bread. If you put the base into the oven for 2 or 3 minutes by itself  and then let it cool a bit before adding the topping, you’ll get a crisper base, but it’s fine without.

Spread your base thickly with tomato sauce and then add…

Spinach and ricotta (my favourite) – defrost some frozen spinach and squeeze every drop of water out that you possibly can – squeeze it in your fists. I then snip  bits off with scissors and dot them around the pizza, then open a tub of ricotta and dot plenty of it around in between the spinach – stick it back in the oven for about eight or so minutes. Ricotta doesn’t melt in the oven, it just gets hot and delicious. This makes a reasonably healthy pizza because you’re not adding additional full fat and melty cheeses (not that melty cheeses are a bad thing, but some people mind about these things)

You can of course add whatever toppings you like to your pizza and tomato sauce

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